Mental Illness & the Stigma That Surrounds It

Stigmatization of people with mental disorders is manifested by bias, distrust, stereotyping, fear, embarrassment, anger, and/or avoidance.
” Stigma leads the (public) to avoid people with mental disorders. It reduces access to resources and leads to low self-esteem, isolation, and hopelessness. It deters the public from seeking, and wanting to pay for care. Stigma results in outright discrimination and abuse. More tragically, it deprives people of their dignity and interferes with their full participation in society.”–U.S. Surgeon General Dr. David Satcher

“Overall approaches to stigma reduction involve programs of advocacy, public education, and contact with persons with mental illness through schools and other societal institutions…One in five Americans struggles with a mental illness in any given year, fewer than half receive the right kind of treatment. Those who fail to get good care are held back by enduring stigma, a fragmented system of mental health care delivery and financial strains. Mental illness is as real as heart disease; patients can benefit from new treatments and medications and can recover. New drugs and therapies have vastly improved the outlook for the 5 million or so people with the most severe mental illnesses. People should expect to do better than they’ve ever done in the past.” –U.S. Surgeon General Dr. David Satcher

“NAMI condemns all acts of stigma directed against persons with brain disorders, whether by intent, ignorance, or insensitivity. Epithets, nicknames, jokes, advertisements, and slurs that refer to persons with brain disorders in a stigmatizing way are cruel. NAMI considers acts of stigma to be discrimination.

NAMI believes, in accordance with current scientific evidence, that persons who are receiving appropriate treatment and services for a brain disorder are no more violent than the population at large. NAMI deplores the portrayal in literature, films, and television of persons with brain disorders as being prone to violence. These frequent depictions are hurtful stereotypes. The truth is that persons with brain disorders are more often the victims of violence.

NAMI especially deplores the exploitation of people with brain disorders by journalists, advertisers, advertising agencies, the entertainment industry, and others for commercial gain or other advantage.” NAMI

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